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Learn IT secrets from a campus trendsetter

Sifting through new technology can be intimidating, unless you’re Josh Harder, facilities manager of the Digital Media Center. Josh helps run services like equipment for loan and consulting for those who want to experiment with new tools. “I like to be the end user advocate,” said Josh, which includes “breaking down as many barriers as possible” between users and technology.

To stay abreast of trends, Josh subscribes to RSS feeds from sites like Engadgets, Tom’s Hardware, and Lifehacker. He also uses organizational tools like DoIT’s JIRA software to track tasks both for himself and his staff, or Evernote to store items of personal interest like tutorial material.

He is a big fan of the LiveScribe pen. Josh explained how “It allows you to run a meeting and be a note taker,” as it’s designed to let you write notes while taking an audio recording of the meeting. Later, you can touch the pen to a point in the notes to recall what was being said. Aside from faculty and staff, Josh thinks the LiveScribe pen “would be very helpful to students too,” but added that those who typically type notes “have to get used to the style.”

Josh is excited about new Microsoft Surface tablet, especially the form factor. “I think this is a prototype for what other companies can do,” he said about its design. According to Josh, the Surface in particular “has potential because of its install base,” which includes many widely used Microsoft products.

He is also pleased with his Galaxy Note II, a smart phone that seems a little smarter than the rest. Its large screen enables it to have two apps sharing the screen at once. “For someone who is a bus commuter like me, this can be great for multitasking,” he mentioned. For those who bemoan the lack of accuracy for touch screens, it comes with a stylus which he says “is awesome and has great sensitivity.” And, “it knows where you’re looking — its forward facing camera can track your eye movements,” so it knows better than to rotate the screen automatically when tilted.

Ultimately, finding out what soft or hardware to use is a personal decision. As Josh explained, you have to look at “where your licensing ecosphere exists” and consulting with experts is one way to whittle down options. Consider the Digital Media Center the resource that could show you ways to streamline your work, in ways you may not have imagined possible.